Difference Between Haber and Tener

Haber vs Tener

Haber and Tener happen to be one of the most confusing verb pairs for all those who are trying to learn Spanish. While both verb forms express the same meaning of ‘to have’ or ‘to possess’, students often remain confused as to which of the either has to be used in a particular context. This article aims to clear this confusion by highlighting the difference between the two verb forms.

When you are talking about something in the sense of possessing it, tener is the verb form to be used. Haber is mostly used in the form of an auxiliary verb for things that you have done. Thus, if you want to make clear that you physically have something, make use of tener. The common thing with both verb forms is that they are both irregular.

Both haber and tener combine with que and become eligible to be used in sentences where necessity or obligation needs to be expressed. This is one feature that confuses the students of Spanish language.

What is the difference between Haber and Tener?

• Tener and haber are verbs that are used very commonly in Spanish language and both seem to indicate the same meaning of ‘to have’ or ‘to possess’.

• But, heber reflects an event of existence as ‘to happen’ or ‘to exist’; tener reflects physical possession as in ‘to take’ or ‘to have’.

• Haber is used in many different contexts, and it is considered as a conjugation verb by Spanish people. Haber is used as hay in the present tense or habia as in the past tense in the sense of mere existence of a thing or a person.

• Tener expresses possession and also helps in expressing idioms used in different emotions and states of being.


    Thank you for this explanation.

  • Hollisterbulldawg

    Still not sure of the differences. A few examples would have been helpful. I will continue to use tener in the present, preterit, imperfect. I will use haber as an auxillary verb in the other past tenses.